Wauwatosa police have arrested a 15-year-old Milwaukee boy who they believe opened fire at Mayfair mall Friday afternoon, sending eight to the hospital.
Police Chief Barry Weber said the suspect was arrested Saturday night and that the shooting was the result of an altercation between two groups of people at the mall.
“We do know there was some sort of altercation, and that’s when the bullets started flying,” Weber said during a Sunday news conference.
Police had said Friday that witnesses described the shooter as a white man in his 20s or 30s. But Weber described the suspect as a 15-year-old Hispanic boy. His firearm was recovered during the arrest.
Four innocent bystanders were among those who received non-life-threatening injuries during the shooting.
“There were several members of those groups that were injured during this altercation,” Wauwatosa Police Public Information Officer Abby Pavlik said of the two groups involved in the altercation.
The teen left the mall as other patrons were running out, according to Wauwatosa police.
Weber said officers arrived within 30 seconds of the first call to police at 2:49 p.m. The shooting occurred near Macy’s on the lower level of the mall.
Officers were unaware that the shooter had left the mall when they entered. The shooter left the property on foot, based on video surveillance.
Police said several other arrests have been made related to the shooting.
Weber said the initial information that was put out on the suspect was “erroneous.” He said that later Friday evening police started to develop leads that led them to believe the shooter was younger than first thought.
Weber said he viewed surveillance video and that helped find the shooter. The Police Department did not release surveillance to the public when they suspected the shooter was a minor.
Witnesses inside the mall Friday reported hearing multiple gunshots about 3 p.m. that sent people fleeing for the exits or to other locations where they could safely shelter in place. Reporters at the scene and news helicopters captured video of at least four people being loaded into ambulances in the parking lot.
The mall was closed Saturday but reopened at 11 a.m. Sunday.
A rally for President Donald Trump was held outside Mayfair mall while it was closed Saturday. Some of those at the rally were carrying guns.
Mayor Dennis McBride said he wished they would not have held the rally there so close to the shooting.
“That rally, as I understand it, was planned a week ahead of time. I think it was unfortunate they decided to come with what happened the day before,” McBride said.
“I don’t think people should come to political rallies with guns,” he said. “I respect the First Amendment rights of everybody for political rallies and protests. If it were up to me, I would have said, please do not come, do not bring guns, honor the fact that our community is suffering right now.”
McBride encouraged residents to continue shopping at Mayfair mall.
“As soon as I leave here, I’m off to Mayfair,” McBride said at the news conference. “I have no problems whatsoever shopping at Mayfair. I never have and I never will. It’s a safe place. The holidays are here and I hope to see you all shopping at Mayfair.”
The mayor said he plans to speak with Mayfair’s general manager Monday. He was not sure if all the stores were back open.